Testimony:

Leczek (born 1925) saw four Gestapo members as they drove to the Jewish Police office. The policemen gave them small bundles of Jewish belongings (gold, jewels…) then they were shot down behind the building.

When the ghetto was liquidated at the end of 1942, he saw how the Jews were gathered and selected at the church square. The fit ones were thrown onto trucks and the others were shot, not far from pits dug on a slope beside the ghetto. Babies were thrown up in the air and shot down. Today there is no memorial there.

 

From August 6 to August 20, 2012, a Yahad-In Unum team conducted Yahad's fourth research trip to Poland, in the Lublin region. During the research trip, the Yahad team interviewed 41 witnesses and identified 17 sites of execution.

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Places

Administrative district of Lublin

Investigated towns/villages: Izbica, Hrebenne, Labunie, Komarow, Zwierzyniec, Szewnia Dolna, Tyszowce, Siemnice, Michalow, Laszczow, Hrubieszow

 

Historical Background

The investigated zone was occupied by the Germans from the end of the summer 1939 until 1943. It was part of the Generalkomissariat of Poland.

There were few available archives or historical records about the investigated localities, which made the research fieldwork – whose conclusions have proved productive – all the more necessary.

The Lublin region was a region with a large Jewish population. Even if some of them had managed to escape to the Soviet side as early as 1939, many of them were gathered in ghettos and were sent to the death camps – mostly Belzec and Sobibor – from 1942 on. However, a great number of them were also executed during mass shootings. It is therefore difficult to explain why some of the Jews were sent to the death camps while others were shot on the spot. Were there local initiatives as in rural areas? Was it a matter of cost? Was it a matter of logistics? The questions regarding the origins of these shootings remain open. In the course of this trip, our team found out many witnesses of the shootings.

 

Key Findings

– In the city of Zamosc, the Jews were forced into a ghetto. There were a few shootings but no mass executions, as most of the Jews were taken to Belzec.

– Most of the time, German police units remained in the administrative centers of gminas, the gmina being the smallest administrative unit in Poland. As indicated by the archives Yahad had studied, policemen widely initiated the shootings across the studied area. While comparing these archives to the field investigation and to the testimonies, it was striking to see how the remembrance of these policemen and of some of the cruelest ones among them still haunts the collective memory. Many witnesses remembered the names of the policemen, their demeanor and their uniforms.

– The Yahad team decided to go to the village of Hrebene, today at the border between Poland and Ukraine which was drawn after the war. The objective was to investigate the presumed fourth shooting site of the Jews of Rawa Ruska, today in Ukraine. Yahad met Ianina (born 1933). On going to pick up berries, the little girl witnessed  the shootings of the Jews from Rawa Ruska several times on the wooded hill, which is today at the border between Poland and Ukraine, thus confirming our previous investigations. She said that the shootings lasted for about a month.

– For the Nazis, the Zamosc region was a test zone for a Germanization plan between 1941 and 1943. The populations of the villages were expropriated one after the other. They were sent to transit camps before being deported further west, either to Germany for forced labor, or to concentration camps like Majdanek. There were two major transit camps, one in the city of Zwieryniec, the other in Zamosc. There are still many witnesses to this tragic event.

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